The Essence of Scholasticism Abhidharmahrdaya. T1550 (Revised Edition with a Completely New Introduction)

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Item Code: IHE044
Author: Charles Willemen
Edition: 2006
ISBN: 8120830946
Pages: 360
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.7 " X 5.7"
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Book Description
From the jacket

The Essence of Scholasticism is a meditation manual, leading to arhatship. It is the central text of the westernmost part of the Gandharan cultural area, i.e. Bactria. Probably composed in the first century BCE, it was commented on and elaborated in several sastras, the best known being the Abhidharmakosabhasya of the fifth century. The Essence and the Astagrantha are the basic treatises of the non-vaibhasika sarvastivadins, i.e. of the sautrantikas, of the Gandharan cultural area. These texts were translated in China in the fourth century by Samghadeva from Jibin, i.e. the Gandharan area. The mahasamghikas and prajna-yoga reacted against such literature and practices of jnana-yoga. Vijnanavada developed from this kind of Buddhism to vijnana-yoga, taking in the earlier prajna-yoga reaction. Samghadeva is also linked with the introduction of pudgalavada in China. The work of Samghadeva is of crucial importance for Buddhism in East Asia. The Essence contains a completely new introduction taking into account the new insights since 1975, when the first English study appeared in Brussels.

Charles Willemen, M.A. in classics (Latin and Greek), M.A. and ph. D. in oriental studies, all in Belgium, where he has been a full professor since 1977. He is lifelong member of the Belgian Royal academy of sciences, and has been visiting professor in Nalanda, Benares, Santineketan, Beijing, shanghai, Xi’an, Calgary. He has written extensively about the spread of Buddhism from India to East Asia, both in books and in such periodicals as the Indian International Journal of Buddhist studies, etc.


Since my study of the Chinese Abhidharmahrdaya in 1975, our knowledge of Sarvastivada literature has significantly increased. We now know that the Gandharan cultural area is the area from where Buddhism traveled to China, and ultimately to Japan. Although I was fully aware of that fact in 1975, our knowledge has advanced, and many questions have been raised and solved. But much is still hypothetical. This nevertheless has the advantage of being able to explain seemingly unrelated events. The process of trial and error, action and reaction, will advance our knowledge.

A new edition of the Hrdaya became increasingly necessary. Not my translation of the text itself has changed much, but the introduction had to be completely rewritten. The Chinese text is still based on the Japanese edition Taishu 1550, pp.809a-833b (numbers in the translation refer to these pages and columns), but the interpretation is new, and I have clearly identified the 250 stanzas. To do this, I have used a dunhuang manuscript and I have paid more attention to the variant readings, especially of the so-called three editions, i.e. Sixi or Huzhou edition, puning edition, and yongle edition. As the work was prepared in Shanghai, simplified characters are used.


Abbreviations ix
Preface xi
Introduction 1
Chapter I.The Elements (1-14) 21
Chapter II.Formations(15-32) 37
Chapter III.Actions(33-64)59
Chapter IV.Urges(65-96)89
Chapter V.The Noble(97-122)119
Chapter VI.Knowledge(123-147)147
Chapter VII.Concentration(148-175)181
Chapter VIII.Scriptural Texts(176-215)217
Chapter IXMiscellaneous(216-224)265
Chapter X.Discourse(241-250)295
List of Sanskrit Terms301
Chinese-Sanskrit-English glossary315
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